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Using social and behavioral psychology to predict needs in the workplace

A month into my tenure at a past job, the Chief People Officer, my direct supervisor, asked me during our weekly 1:1s: "Are you psychic?"

The answer is no... but I do have a degree in Social Psychology and Business Management; Which I'd like to think is close enough to being psychic.


So how do I do it?


The moment I join a new team, I pay close attention to patterns in behaviors, gaps between goals and strategies, and key motivators for executives, employees, and as well as the company's target consumers.


And so with very little context and limited face time, I'm able to predict people and business needs to suggest a variety of possible solutions. Before my first work anniversary, I had coached multiple executives on effective communication, designed an L&D program that adapts to different individuals, and mentored team members to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.


TLDR: Pay attention to people's needs and motivators, and you'll unravel a predictable pattern of behaviors.


Want to gain some "psychic" abilities?


Here are some video resources to get you started:


First, dive into the science of human behavior. Expert Program Management goes over 12 of the most common motivation theories.



Then, understand how actively creating psychological safety within your interactions "leads to more confidence [in your team], increase creativity and innovation, improved productivity, and elevated trust."


Because the safer people feel around you, the more likely they'll be honest about their roadblocks. And the more aware you are of roadblocks, the more proactive the team can be at tackling them together.



On an even deeper level, pay attention to how people are wired differently. Once you understand how someone processes information, you'll be able to bridge gaps in communication and plan effectively towards a shared goal.


Differing Minds, in the video below, touches on how embracing people with unique perspectives and experiences "can be a huge advantage to organizations and society."



Then there's the factor of interrelational and power dynamics. We can't deny that office politics exist and so we conduct DACI group-decision models and elaborate stakeholder graphs. But why is it, when a group of executives go against a group kindergarteners to build the highest spaghetti tower with a marshmallow on top, the kindergarteners are more likely to win?


Tom Wujec's TEDtalk explains how the highly replicable Marshmallow Challenge shows that prototyping, facilitation skills, and spending less time on power dynamics changes the game.


So to wrap it up:

  1. Actively create psychological safety within your team and your everyday interactions

  2. Be curious about people's needs and motivators

  3. Understand that different brains are wired differently

  4. Spend less time on power dynamics and spend more time on prototyping and facilitation


Want to learn more? Follow me on Linkedin!

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